MUNCIE, Ind. – Brian Thornton, an assistant coach at Winthrop and former Academic All-American at Xavier, has been named an assistant coach with the Ball State men's basketball program.
Thornton coached with Winthrop the past two years under head coach Pat Kelsey. He helped the Eagles to a 20-13 record this past season, marking the program's first 20-win campaign in six years. Winthrop tied for second in the South Division of the Big South Conference and advanced to the championship game of the league tournament before falling to Coastal Carolina.
Before arriving at Winthrop, Thornton spent two years as the director of basketball operations at Xavier under head coach Chris Mack and one year as an assistant coach at Furman. He was on the staff for Xavier's run to the Sweet 16 of the 2010 NCAA tournament.
"I am thrilled to be adding Brian Thornton to our staff," Ball State head coach James Whitford said. "I had the great privilege of coaching Brian at Xavier, where he was a terrific player and a great student. He brings experience a college player, a professional player and someone who has had success in the business world. He has worked under two coaches I greatly respect in Chris Mack and Pat Kelsey, both of whom really raved about Brian's time with them. His experience as a post player will provide our big guys with a unique advantage."
Thornton played his first two years of college basketball for coach Kevin Stallings at Vanderbilt (2001-03) and his final two for coach Sean Miller at Xavier (2004-06). Whitford was an assistant on the Musketeers' staff for his final college season.
Thornton was a Southeastern Conference All-Freshman Team selection in his rookie year at Vanderbilt. He went on to score 1,175 points for his career, surpassing the 500-point mark at both Vanderbilt and Xavier. By his senior year with the Musketeers, he was a first-team All-Atlantic 10 Conference selection and an all-district pick by the National Association of Basketball Coaches.
"I am excited about working with Coach Whitford," Thornton said. "I know the way he runs things and the 'do what we do' philosophy that exists at places like Arizona, Xavier and Ball State. Ball State is obviously a place that has had a history of success, and that is intriguing. The school is in a state that has maybe the best basketball in the country, so there are plenty of kids who are available and interested in being Ball State Cardinals."
Thornton ranked among the top 10 in the nation in shooting percentage (.640) as a senior in 2005-06 while leading the Musketeers with 15.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game. He became the first men's basketball player in Xavier history to earn Academic All-America honors.
The Louisville, Ky., native went on to play professionally in Germany before returning to Xavier as a volunteer coach while completing work on his MBA. He graduated cum laude from Xavier with a bachelor's degree in liberal arts in 2005 and also earned his MBA from Xavier in 2007.
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